China in the southern caucasus

I n antiquity, China was connected with the Southern Caucasus by the Great Silk Road, which helped develop trade, economic and cultural contacts. For many centuries, however, it had been practically absent from the region. In the new geopolitical situation created by the Soviet Union’s disintegration into independent states in the Southern Caucasus, in particular, China’s great interest in the region is explained, primarily, by its geographic location and considerable energy offshore resources. It occupies a special place on the list of priorities held by Beijing, which spares no effort to consolidate its positions in the region and promote wide-scale projects there. It goes without saying that while pursuing its aims, China should take into account the interests of states traditionally present in the region and their considerable influence. Specifically, these include Russia, Turkey and Iran. In the last decades, extra-regional actors, namely the U.S. and the EU, have been contributing to the region’s political and economic transformations. In the 1990s, in its search for stronger economic positions in Central Asia, China betrayed no geopolitical interest in the Southern Caucasus. Having confirmed its positions within its Central Asian neighbors, Beijing turned its attention to the energy resources of the Southern Caucasus and its transportation and communication potentials. It tempted the local countries with adequately funded infrastructure projects, which helped it promptly move to the fore in the region’s trade, economic and investment spheres. In the last ten years, having formulated its foreign policy aims in the Southern Caucasus, China has been demonstrating its apparent intention to spread its influence far and wide across the post-Soviet space. This is confirmed by infrastructure projects, the most ambitious of them being Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that will allow the PRC to consolidate its positions in the post-Soviet space, the Southern Caucasus in particular. The local countries, in their turn, expect economic advantages from their closer relationships with China; they expect that the projects developed using Chinese money will improve their social and economic situation and diversify their trade and economic contacts. The Southern Caucasus is yet another confirmation that China knows how to use soft power to its advantage. Its educational and cultural projects realized in the region are aligned with its geopolitical aims and economic interests to ensure Beijing’s wider presence in the region. © 2019, CA and C Press AB. All rights reserved.

Zhiltsov S. 1, 2, 3 , Alexanian L.1 , Gavrilova S.1 , Markova E. 4
CA and CC Press AB
Номер выпуска
  • 1 Department of Political Science and Political Philosophy, Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Moscow, Russian Federation
  • 2 People’s Friendship University of Russia, Moscow, Russian Federation
  • 3 Sergey Witte University of Moscow, Moscow, Russian Federation
  • 4 Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Humanitarian and Social Sciences, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Moscow, Russian Federation
Ключевые слова
Armenia; Azerbaijan; Belt and Road Initiative; China; Georgia; The Southern Caucasus
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